NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Two suspects have been convicted by Kapenguria law court after they were found guilty of smuggling sugar from Uganda.
Kapenguria Senior Principal Magistrate Samuel Mutai found Leonard Rotino and Collins Ignatious Steekamp guilty of smuggling 700 bags of sugar each weighing 50kg branded Kaliro brown sugar and which are manufactured in Uganda.
Rotino, importer of the goods, was sentenced to serve 5 years imprisonment or pay a fine of half the dutiable value of the goods which is Kshs 1,575,000 while Steekamp, a truck driver, was sentenced to pay a fine of Ksh 50,000.
The 700 bags of brown sugar were also forfeited to the Kenya Revenue Authority. The court delivered the judgment on 22nd January, 2021.
Importing restricted goods contrary to section 200(a) (ii) of the East African Community and Customs Management Act 2004 and Conveying uncustomed goods contrary to section 199(b) (iii) of the East African community and Customs Management Act 2004 respectively.
The convicts were arrested after KRA investigation officers with the assistance of DCI officers from Kacheliba intercepted a truck carrying imported sugar without import documents.
The vehicle was intercepted along Karita – Kacheliba road. Investigations confirmed that the sugar had no import documents such as the importation licence and a certificate of origin from the East African Countries.
Importation of sugar into Kenya is regulated by the sugar directorate under Agriculture and Food Authority making it a restricted item.
For one to import sugar into the Country, one is required to obtain an annual sugar importation licence from the Sugar Directorate and obtain a pre-shipment permit for each consignment.
The licences and permit form part of the documentation to be presented to customs officers at the border at the time of importation for clearance and payment of requisite taxes.
However, unscrupulous importers without the requisite licences avoid the strict customs processes at designated border points at Busia, Lwakhakha, Malaba and Suam importers and smuggle in sugar from Uganda using ungazetted border points such as Karita and Lokiriama.
The sugar is then distributed to retailers who then sell to consumers within Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Lodwar Counties. This amounts to unfair trade practices and occasions massive revenue loss to the Government.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) strives to detect and disrupt tax evasion schemes and prosecute criminals who engage in smuggling of goods through our borders to ensure that all individuals pay their fair share of customs duty and the right amount of taxes are paid to the government.